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Red Nose Day 2013 breaks new record

Red Nose Day 2013 breaks new record

They say Christmas comes earlier every year and Comic Relief's launch with its bake off two months ahead of Red Nose Day on 15 March is even further ahead than previous years. Should we rejoice or is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

I am enjoying the Comedy Bake-offs and we have always taken the view rather than being jealous of Comic Relief's unparallelled access to free broadcasting and promotion we should thank Red Nose Day for the prominence which they give to children in the developing world. The need of many of these children puts our own problems in perspective.

Comic Relief do not run any field programmes, they fund other charities who operate in the field. The projects they present are generally exactly the kind of things we have been working on for decades (actually sometimes they film our work without mentioning us, for example see Zimbabwe's Forgotten Children  which was highlighted last year) and plenty of donors who see the programming come and make a lasting difference through sponsorship with SOS Children perhaps as well as making a one off contribution on the night.

So how should we react to more and more of the calendar being taken up by a "day"? A few years ago I commented that "Red Nose Day has now started a whole month early" I guess if we were a mail-house charity or a Direct TV charity whose income was dependent on people responding spontaneously to unsolicited appeals we might see responses diminish from the competition, so our reaction might be negative but we are not that kind of operation. If we were a commercial enterprise making profit for promoting mailhouse charities we might be furious. However, we are none of these. People find us either through recommendation by word of mouth or because they want to make a lasting difference are carefully researching how charities spend their income; our approach appeals to thoughtful donors (some might say "slightly cynical but open minded donors"). Comic Relief raises the profile of children in real need and awakens enough people to mean it always helps us. Donors are free to research the best charities to help with the problems presented.

So good luck to them. If Comic Relief can continue to convince the BBC to promote its programming months ahead of the day and it gently pushes its serious message amongst the fun, we can only be happy for them. And if it means some donors enjoy the shows and decide to support the causes directly then I am sure they would agree that's fine too. And the Desmond Tutu cake made me smile all evening.